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Hamam – The Ancient Cleansing and Detox Ritual of Anatolia

Hamam – where wellness, healing and luxury have unified for centuries.

The hamam treatment is the one practice where skin cleansing, mental purification, deep exfoliating, and detoxifying massage come together to bring you the ultimate rejuvenation and balance.

The hamam bathing ritual was one of the most important pillars of the social life of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish hamam was (and still is) where the tradition of physical and mental purification takes place. As your body and skin are cleaned and purified from toxins, blood circulation increases and the immune system is stimulated which resets the mind and body in balance. As most ancient practices lost momentum in transition to the new world, the hamam treatment is probably one of the oldest rituals which has increasingly gained popularity in nearly every corner of the world.

Given the interior operational complexities of a traditional hamam, it can be quite overwhelming and difficult for spa professionals to visualize how the practice can be implemented. However, many contemporary spas and facilities can employ the practice within their existing configuration with the right guidance.

As is the case with many therapeutic treatments, the magic is generally in the hands, quality products, and proper protocol. A quality, woven kese is essential in the exfoliation process. As is the case with the torba: a quality torba is everything when it comes to the foam massage which is standard in any hamam massage and cleansing.

One solution to prevent the kese’s and peshtemals going missing, is to incorporate the cost into the treatment, and offer these ornate and memorable items to guests as a keepsake. What better way to leave your guests with a memory and continual reminder of their experience?

Quality training and ongoing advice on hamam procedures and etiquette is a must. More often than not, an area where we see the need for improvement is in the actual application of the treatment, rather than structure. For instance, most hamams in the U.S. offer optional hair wash at an additional cost, when in fact the hair wash/scalp massage is an integral part of the treatment, thus should be included. It is important to keep in mind that this is a head to toe restorative process, and feels incomplete when performed any other way.

As trivial as this might sound, another mistake that stands out is in the way the water is poured over the client. The water must be gently ‘poured’ and not vigorously splashed, this can make the difference between your client leaving your facility with another treatment on the books, or feeling frazzled. There is nothing memorable about water being vigorously splashed on our face and eyes when we are in the mindset of a calm meditative state.

We try to encourage our clients in warmer climates such as Hawaii or the Caribbean is to offer the hamam treatment as a part of a ‘welcome package’. The deep exfoliation involved in the treatment is an essential way to reawaken the senses, and prepare the skin for new sun, sand the benefits and goodness of the salt water. As a bonus, it is one of the best practices for overcoming jet lag, and the ultimate ‘reset’ for long distance travelers.

Guniz Alkan & Sultan Gonen

A La Turca Textiles

Author: Fabiola

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